168 Hours Until WWDC 2010

With just over a week left until Steve Jobs takes the stage for the keynote address at this years annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, I am thinking about what we might see. After every keynote there is always a short-lived euphoria that results from being inside the reality distortion field followed but a postpartum depression. There are usually two results from a WWDC. Either you are blown away by something that no one knew was coming or you are disappointed because all the crazy rumors did not come true. In the age of Vietnamese product leaks, the latter is becoming all to common. What is always the best part of WWDC is what is not openly said.

Years ago when the iPhone first came out there was a recurring them that was reiterated with the first iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK). Apple quietly recommended to developers that they should write their apps to work regardless of the screen size. The SDK like the Mac OS SDK has tools to let the programmer check to see how big the screen is when it is running and move icons and graphics to the center of that space. That hint 3 years ago came true this year. The result is that if you program according to this recipe, when the iPad showed up you wouldn’t need to rewrite you application for the larger screen.

There’s a difference between what I think we will see and what I want to see at WWDC this year. First let me start with what I expect to see. Of course we will get a release date on the iPhone OS 4.0 and the 4th Generation iPhone. Once can look at a calendar and pick the candidate dates for the release. Apple likes to release these kinds of updates on Saturday. I assume that is to protect their stock and to let people update at home rather than at work. This also gives Apple the weekend to do damage control before the Monday news cycle starts up again if there are problems. Apple also generally does not like to release their hardware and software at the same time. And there is typically an update to iTunes in advance of any major iPhone release if there is new functionality in the OS that needs it. So there are the constraints. There are only three Saturdays after WWDC left in the month. I expect the 4th Generation iPhone to be released on June 26. That means we can expect the iPhone OS 4 to come out on the 19th. I do not expect it any sooner because I think it will require an updated version of iTunes.

I think the focus of WWDC this year will be about the mobile experience. Now we are getting further into the realm of prognostication when I talk about changes to MobileMe and iTunes. MobileMe is Apples online suite of tools for synchronization, online email, calendaring, address book, and picture hosting. Apple also has iWork.com but the two don’t play nice with each other. While iWork.com is free, you have to pay for MobileMe. The $99 price tag ($71 on Amazon is a great value when you consider all you get for an entire year. The Family Pack version is 50% more and supports the family with multiple iPhones. The problem is that even at less than $10 per month, its hard to compete with free. Google and to a lesser extent Yahoo and Hotmail offer competing free services. Apple could own this experience for mac users by doing a couple of things. First, redefine MobileMe as the collection of services centered around your Apple ID. This does not necessarily mean the me.com email address. I have an Apple ID that is not my me.com email address. I should be able to use MobileMe sync services like I use iWork.com. Sync is the most important strength of MobileMe. Making it universally available to all users would make the iPhone experience a no-brainer when it comes to setting up a new device.

Second, Apple should move the sync and configuration part of the iPhone/iPad from iTunes and move it to the cloud. Since all of my Apps are there anyway, why cannot I use MobileMe to configure, sync and backup my iPhone.

The biggest problem with this ideal is the size of my music and video library that I want to sync with iTunes. So iTunes would still need to be part of the mix or there’s no reason to have a 64GB iPad. But iTunes should sync your configuration with MobileMe. You should be able to make configuration changes for your devices from MobileMe. This goes right along with the remote wipe features.

There are rumors that iTunes will become cloud-based. I think this would be interesting. Apple already knows what music I have bought for them. Unlike application purchases once I download a song the burden is on me to back it up and keep it safe. I should be able to go back to my catalog in the sky and play any song that I have ever bought from iTunes.

On to wish list items. I would like to see a new iPod Touch based on the rumored 4th generation iPhone. if historical patterns stay constant, we won’t see this until early September. Hopefully it will be before September 7th when the back-to-school promo ends but my money is on that not happening. I would want the new iPhone to use the new A4 processor and have all of the features of the iPhone except of course for the cellular radio. I really do not expect the GPS in the iPod. I really would like to see the camera(s).

As you can see I expect a lot about the iPhone but I don’t think there are any big surprises left in the OS or the hardware. The only opportunity for a big announcement would be in the form of a business model shift in the way MobileMe works. The recent me.com email beta is a teaser in that direction.

The Mac OS got its stabilization and 64-bit update last year. I expect we will see 10.6.4 released soon. The big black hole of questions is what will be in 10.7? There has been a complete void of speculation. I would not be surprised if we got a developer preview out of 10.7 that would dovetail right into some new hardware hook. And that is where the story gets really muddy. I would expect 10.7 for a Spring or Summer 2011 release. What’s next in the OS? I would imaging the future updates would also dovetail with a change in MobileMe.

Microsoft at WWDC? Actually I expect some announcement from Microsoft next week. There are two possibilities. Either they will announce that docs.com works on the iPad or they will announce that Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad will be out for Christmas. Both seem like equal possibilities. Microsoft has rolled the Mac Business Unit (MacBU) back into their office team. While reorgs are common at Microsoft this one seems focused on standardizing the MS Office experience at the expense of Mac-specific features.

What about AppleTV? I’m a fan of AppleTV? I find it a great way to watch movies. I use it slaved to my iTunes library. The internal hard drive is too small to be used for anything more than caching. I do not expect Apple to ever update my AppleTV even if there is an updated OS. Apple typically does not dwell on backwards compatibility so any update would probably use the A4 processor and the iPhone OS. I could hopefully take advantage of whatever the MobileMe strategy announcement is. I would love to see NetFlix integration so I would not have to switch between my AppleTV and Roku boxes.

New Macs. I think the MacBook Air is due for a refresh. I’m not a processor geek but it sounds like the i3 chip was designed perfectly for the Air. If Apple can deliver an Air with a 10 hour battery it would be the natural upgrade from an iPad for people who need more power on the go. I don’t think it is time to refresh the rest of the MacBook line. The Mac Pro line and Mac Mini lines are both due for refreshes. I do not think Apple would waste its time at WWDC on the Mac Mini. The Mac Pro would only justify the timeslot if they stuffed 32 i7 chips and it and taught it to hover. We’ll see.

It should be an interesting show. The clock is ticking.

Zinio for iPad is a Great way to read magazines but not perfect

There are a number of big magazines out there that have created their own iPad application such as Wired, Time, and Popular Science. At $5 per issue it is hard to justify buying them over the newsstand version. Wired magazine as a monthly is a pretty good deal because the digital version is less expensive than the paper version. Time magazine however is not a good deal at $5 per week when I can get an annual subscription for a couple dollars per issue.

So then there’s Zino. They are offering a full list of magazines. Their model is a subscription model. Their pricing is very aggressive. Take for example Popular Photography. You have your choice of $5.99 for one issue or an annual subscription for $12. Other titles on Zinio include National Geographic, Macworld and Popular Mechanics. Be sure to use Wi-Fi to download your magazines or you will use up your monthly bandwidth really fast.

When compared with the Wired Magazine application the Zinio applications come up short. The magazine navigation experience is very linear although you can go to a page browser. Each page is presented as a graphic. You cannot select text or click on hyperlinks. All the content is presented as it would appear in the magazine. The only small bit of interactivity is in the form of some hyperlinks that open a web page in the built-in web browser. Links for stories that are continued on another page use a link that takes you to the page browser rather than to that page.

Not all of the title available on the Zinio.com are available on the iPad. Notably you cannot get books. The iPad app does not let you download any Adult magazine either. There’s also an iPhone/iPod version but the title selection is not consistent. For best results use the “Shop” screen on the iPad to buy your magazines. It is hard to navigate and there is no search feature but you can be sure the title you pick will work on the iPad. Titles take up a lot of room so delete ones that you no longer want.

The free offerings on the iPad are really good. You can download featured sample articles from top magazines like National Geographic for free. When you get to the last page you are prompted to buy the magazine for just $5.99 each issue or 12 issues for $16.50.

AT&T Plan Nearly Out of Data

I managed to use up 80 MB of my iPad data plan in just under 12 minutes by downloading a single magazine via Zinio. As I was doing it the emails rolled in warning me that I was running low.

10:49 AM

Your 250 MB of data for 30 days for $14.99 rate plan has 17% of the plan remaining. Your next auto-renew date is 05-29-2010. To purchase more prior to your next auto-renew date, please go to Settings on your iPad.

10:55 AM

Your 250 MB of data for 30 days for $14.99 rate plan has 7% of the plan remaining. Your next auto-renew date is 05-29-2010. To purchase more prior to your next auto-renew date, please go to Settings on your iPad.

11:01 AM

Your 250 MB of data for 30 days for $14.99 rate plan has 2% of the plan remaining. Your next auto-renew date is 05-29-2010. To purchase more prior to your next auto-renew date, please go to Settings on your iPad.

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Playing with Polarizing Filter for Brighter Colors Outdoors

I recently bought a polarizing filter for my camera and finally got a chance to try it out. I was immediately impressed with the results. I still need to do more experimentation with it bit I think It will serve my needs. Since I use an autofocus DSLR, I bought a circular polarizing filter. I chose the Tiffen over the Hoya strictly on price. In my quick experiment I had the sun to my right. I took several shots rotating the filter through its axis. There was some variation in those shots but in general they were all clearer than the unfiltered control. This new filter is now part of my standard toolbox.

Congratulations, your auto-renew of 250 MB of data for 30 days for $14.99 was successful

I got a nice little note from AT&T today. My data plan actually has 23 hours left on it according to the iPad itself. I used 160MB for the month. I had been a little paranoid and left the radio off for the first couple of weeks. I’ve left it on all the time for the last two weeks. Next month will be the test as I will be taking it on the road for a week. I expect to burn through my data.

Congratulations, your auto-renew of 250 MB of data for 30 days for $14.99 was successful.

Your credit/debit card has been charged $14.99.

Reminder: Domestic iPad Plans may be purchased with unlimited data usage, or with a data usage allotment measured in MBs, for a 30 day period utilizing a credit or debit card. The 30 day period begins to expire immediately upon purchase, whether or not you are using the service. If you purchase a Domestic iPad Plan with a data usage allotment and you use all of your allotment prior to the expiration of the 30 day period, your access to our Data Services will cease for the remainder of the 30 day period. If you want to continue using our Data Services during the remaining 30 day period, you will need to purchase an additional iPad Plan by going to Settings > Cellular Data on your iPad and selecting from available options. If you purchase an additional iPad Plan, the 30 day period, including the 30 day automatic renewal period, will change to the date and time you purchase the additional iPad Plan. Domestic iPad Plans include the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

The terms for the AT&T 3G Data Plan for iPadTM have been revised. For updated terms, please see www.att.com/termsofservice. Your continued use of the AT&T 3G Data Plan for iPad constitutes your acceptance of the revised terms.

Thank You,
AT&T

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The @audible_com iPad app should allow synchronized bookmarks across devices like the Kindle app– now that would be cool

Once of the best features of Amazon Kindle is the ability to sync your location between devices. I would love to have that ability in my Audible.com audiobooks. I often listen to books on my iPod in my car. I have the same book on my iPhone but it is very difficult to get back to the same spot. Of course my iPod does not have Wi-Fi so that wouldn’t work for me at all but it might motivate me to upgrade my iPod Mini.
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Wired Magazine is now available for iPad for $5 per issue

I was just wondering this morning if Wired would ever come out with their iPad version and behold it is there. For $4.99 you can have access to the June issue with Buzz and Woody on the cover. $4.99 seems like a fair price for this issue when you consider what the newsstand version costs. It is more reasonable than the price for the weekly Time. The navigation is nice. You can navigate horizontally between articles and vertically within an article. This issue features a clip from Toy Story 3 that is probably not included in the print version.
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